Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I’m sitting at my computer browsing through facebook trying to avoid the tasks at hand (Mark Zuckerberg is seriously a genius). As I see it, I have two options. Either I write a blog post which I have been dreading due to the lack of anything worth saying (not like that stopped me before!) or I go jogging (Peter thinks I’m actually working, don’t tell him).
What ever happened to easy options like “do you want fries with that?”  Although truth to be told, it is that kind of choice that make jogging a necessity at this point. Curse those tacos and donut holes from the Caveman Bakery (best tacos in town by the way). And what’s up with all those happy joggers along the street, really, they can’t possibly be enjoying the torture. Which leads me to an installment of kisses & disses.

This week’s Disses go to:
+ Happy joggers
+ Procrastinating, if it were a girl it would be my twin sister for sure.
+Facebook, is a love hate relationship

This week’s Kisses go to:
+ Whitney from  she is an awesome writer, love reading her blog. Plus it gives me another reason to not do what I’m supposed to.
+ My husband for keeping me in check!
+ Tacos of course 

Happy Wednesday,

Monday, April 18, 2011


    We wanted to do a post like this to try and help our fellow photographers to look at their own businesses to see if they are cutting themselves short so to say. The reason I say this is we sat down and figured out how long it takes us to complete a 1hr session and the business expenses incurred, and we were surprised. After all, the question always comes up of how much to charge and it really depends on each business. We hope this gives you some insight.

    We used to wonder if a potential client  would think we were too expensive and this made us keep our prices lower, after all, we thought we would lose business to some one else that was a little more inexpensive. Thankfully we are past that now.

   Okay, enough rambling. Back to what we found out about the cost of doing a 1hr session. We figured it took us about 10hrs total from beginning to end. Let me break it down for ya:

Initial contact, arranging for consultation, consultation:                 1 hour
Prep for shoot (charging batteries, cleaning equipment, packing): .75 hour
Actual shooting time:                                                                     1-1.25 hours
Initial editing and final editing of images:                                       4 hours
Prepping and posting to Blog and facebook:                                  .75 hour
Arranging and conducting ordering session:                                  1.5 hours
Placing order w/ lab and finalizing for pick-up:                              .5 hour
Average drive time:                                                                        .5 hour
    Total time (average):                                                                  10 hours

    Now lets figure in business and equipment expenses per session figuring an average of two 1hr portrait sessions per month.

Insurance for equipment:                             $10.55
Website:                                                       $12.50
Camera use (shutter life):                             $2.80
Repare/ replace flash, batteries, cf cards:     $3.00
Fuel:                                                             $3.00
     Total cost:                                               $31.85

    I think $3.00 for fuel is pretty conservative and I also didn't figure in use of lenses, stands, light modifiers (they have a tendency of blowing over and breaking), auto insurance/maintenance, packaging for print/album orders, etc. The time I figured needs to also be modified a little bit, considering that Kenya and I both handle all interaction with clients, we both shoot, drive, we do about 25-30% of the editing together. She handles the blog/facebook, I handle the ordering, she handles prepping the final order. So if we double the hours for everything that we do together we then have a total number of 15 hours invested.

    Our creative fee for one hour is $125. If we add in the $130 minimum order, we arrive at $255  (I'm not subtracting our cost for prints from this figure). Now, to a potential client it looks like we are making $255 per hour which to them probably seems outrageous. So lets put this into perspective: subtract $31.85 (business/equipment expenses) and about $4.00 for packaging/presentation of final order from the $255 and we now have a figure of $219.15 - keep in mind that I haven't subtracted the cost of the prints. Divide $219.15 by 15hrs and we have a total of $14.61 per hour minus another 30% for taxes and we get $10.23 take home and thats not figuring other forms of marketing or investing in the business.

    If we had to replace our 85mm f1.2L II lens ($2218 including filter at B&H) at $10 per hour then it would take us about 222 hours to do so. That's almost fifteen sessions, so at 2 sessions per month we have 7 1/2 months worth of sessions to replace that one piece of equipment without taking any profit for us.
    Is $10 per hour take home worth it to you? How valuable is your time? What value do you place on yourself as an artist? How much have you spent on equipment to make those images? Of course not everyone will do things as we do them. Maybe you spend less time with clients or less time editing, or spend less on equipment. Whatever the case may be, I think that charging a $125 creative fee plus $130 minimum purchase is the absolute minimum that we can do this for. So you see, $255 for a one hour session is actually a bargain for the client. (We hope to up our creative fee soon)

    Then there was the question of if we should give away high resolution image files with portrait sessions. We felt that giving them away was taking away value from what we do as artists. Think about it- who else can make tangible what you see in your mind? Who else can see and capture a portrait the way you can? Nobody. Why give away what nobody else can do as if it has no value?

    I encourage our fellow photogs to look at what you are charging and see if it really is enough. Maybe you have some room to be compensated better for your work as an artist.

    As always this post is just our opinion and we are not saying it's right or wrong, this is just what works for us. Feel free to give your opinion in the comment box below- we are happy to hear what other photographers think.

Ashland and Medford Oregon Wedding & High School Senior Photographer

Monday, April 11, 2011


Dear Peter...Today we celebrate two years. Two years of love, of learning to be brave, of absolute happiness.

You have taught me so many things and I am grateful for every single one of them. If it wasn’t for you I would of never in a million years gone four wheeling, way to scary if I didn’t have your hand to hold on to during those crazy bumps. I wouldn't of ever made it to the top of table rock twice, if you didn’t keep cheering for me along the way when I was ready to give up. Those times when I just wanted to hide from the world you showed me how beautiful the world really is. 

Having you as my unofficial cheerleader is what makes me who I am.  You push me to go beyond what I think I could, because you believe in me. You see what I don’t see in myself. You give me the confidence that I need to take on the world, and when it doesn't workout you are there to hold me tenderly and make it ok.

 You are much more than I ever dreamed you would be. Two years ago when we swore perpetual love to each other I didn’t think I could possibility love you anymore, but today as I look back I realize I love much more now than I did then. It is a blessing to have you by my side. Thank you for sharing you life with me. Thank you for making me the best version of myself I can possibly be. Thank you for loving me in spite of all my flaws. Thank you for being my husband. I hope this is only the beginning of an eternity together; I love you.

Happy Anniversary!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


   That title is a mouth full! So I've been labeled a photo-nerd now from some of our clients because of my absolutely stellar and insightful gear reviews (;  Well they are right, but this one about the Elinchrom Ranger RX Speed AS is no doubt the best yet! I'm just kidding, it's probably kind of boring but at least the pictures are pretty  darn good if I do say so myself.

   Why did we need (Kenya doesn't think we need it but I do) an 1100watt strobe when we already had 1500watts of strobes stashed away in the closet unused and a few speedlights? Portability and power, and man does thing deliver like a heavyweight's left hook! Now, I've tried using our Canon 580EX II's and 430EX II's trigged with TT5's outside in cloudy conditions and they do okay when using four at time as you can see in this picture below, (we were using a light modifier that cut the power of the Canons in half)

but if the sun is really shining you can't use a modifier and they need to be really  close which doesn't give very flattering light. This is where the Ranger RX comes in. Here are some pics from our testing the  Ranger RX out in the sun, yippee!

   In this first shot the sun obviously is coming in from about 135 degrees from camera right, the four Canon speedlights are 90 degrees from camera left, and the Elinchrom Ranger is about two feet away from my left shoulder.

The Canon 580EX IIs & 430EX IIs are aimed at the right side of the models face (camera left) and they are shooting at full power just outside of the frame. They really aren't doing much at all. In fact after this shot we stopped using them.  The Elinchrom Ranger is probably about 3 times as far from the model (7 feet away), shot through a Varistar, and about 1-1 1/3 stop down from full power. This was about 4PM and the sun was very bright. If we had taken off the Varistar and cranked the Ranger to full power she would have been blown out.

  We were amazed at how awesome the Elinchrom Ranger RX worked with the Varistar modifier so we had to try it out bare bulb with a white wide angle reflector. I think the light quality bare bulb is pretty amazing as you can see in these images below. These were shot with the Ranger at about 2-2 1/3 stops down from full power.

Oh yeah, we want to give a big thank you to Kenya's sister for letting us experiment on her once again! You rock little sister! We tried giving away free Wreck The Dress sessions for over a year and only had two takers, not including my lil sis. These kinds of shoots are definitely my favorites.

You might notice the black banding at the bottom of the picture above and the two below. This was

because we were testing out our new Pocketwizard PowerST4 which is supposed to let us shoot above our camera's max sync speed. These were at 1/250th and we were getting the black band. I'm going to try some adjustments with the Pocketwizard utility for hypersync offset and see if this helps, but I only hope to get about 1/320th or maybe 1/400th since we are using "A" heads (for speedy flash duration) instead of "S" heads which I hear work better for hypersync because of their slower flash duration. I have to say that it is really nice to trigger and remotely adjust power settings on both the speedlights and Ranger RX with the same transceiver. We are using MiniTT1's and AC3's for this and they work great.

In these bottom two shots we didn't get the black bars. I think because the Ranger and camera were at about the same plane horizontally. I'm not sure though.

And this is what happens when you forget to turn on your radios after changing have to use photoshop to fill in the missing light! I still think it looks pretty cool though. Kind has an HDRish feel to it.

   The Pocketwizard PowerST4 works good as long as you are not more than about 20 feet away from it. After that and it won't fire, so the range isn't that great. Kind of reminds me of the whole 580EX II / FlexTT5 frequency problem. After frying two 580EX II's and having them fixed I decided to get the frequency mod done and now they work great. I wonder if there is a similar mod for the PowerST4?

   I have seen a lot of debate between the Ranger RX vs Ranger Quadra thing. All I can say is that for the money I think the Ranger RX is a far better deal. After all, you are getting about 1.5 more stops for only a couple hundred more dollars. The Ranger RX Speed AS pack is pretty heavy at about 20 pounds compared to the much lighter Ranger Quadra, but you can use the pack and battery as a weight for your light stand when shooting outside which is a necessity in my book. We've had too many light stands (with modifiers and lights) blown over because of not enough weight holding them down.  If we don't need the power of the Ranger RX then we just use our Canon speedlights ganged together and they work just fine. However, if anybody in the Rogue Valley has some Quadras I would really like to do a comparo just for curiosities sake.

I guess thats the end to a really long blog post. Kenya just asked me if I was writing a book, I just smiled and said, "What did you expect? It's me." If you have any comments or questions feel free to let me know.